Delta ISB: We can’t get a straight answer on the legal basis for stopping the contracts

California Water Research has spent months trying to get a straight answer from the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) Executive Director on the legal basis for stopping contracts for the Delta Independent Science Board (DISB.)

1.  We are told by DSC staff and others that the contracts were not approved by the Department of General Services because of new labor laws, AB 5 / AB 2257. On Friday, March 19 we sent a list of questions to the DSC Executive Director, and cc:ed the Department of General Services attorney. These were some of the questions:

  • Did the DSC submit new or renewed contracts with DISB members to the Department of General Services for review in calendar year 2020?
  • If so, did the Department of General Services disapprove the new or renewed contracts with the DISB members?
  • If so, on what grounds were the contracts disapproved?

2021-03-19 Letter to Delta Stewardship Council re DISB contracts

2.  The DSC Executive Director called us back on Monday, March 22, 2021 and said that it was the Delta Stewardship Council’s attorney, not DGS, that decided the Delta Stewardship Council couldn’t renew the contracts. She said the routine review was initiated after AB 5 passed, but the contracts were not discontinued because of AB 5.  She said the DSC attorney decided they couldn’t issue new Delta ISB contracts because of the California Constitution. She said “her hands were tied.”

When asked for details about the legal basis, the Executive Director said that the DSC’s counsel, Vera Bezdicek, could explain the legal basis for the decision, but said she couldn’t arrange a call with our attorney.

2021-03-22call re DISB contracts — notes

3. On April 5 we get an email response that makes vague hand-waving references to Article VII, section 4 of the state Constitution and CalHR guidelines for exempt employees.

2021-04-05 RE_ Questions regarding contracts for scientific review by Delta Independent Science Board members

4. We discover (via public records act request) that Delta Stewardship Council’s own contract administrator didn’t seem to be getting the real story on why the contracts were stopped. On May 3, our attorney, Gwynne Pratt, sends a formal request to the DSC Executive Director, requesting that she provide “the legal basis on which she relied” in instructing the Department of General Services to send back the contracts. 

2021-05-03 California Water Research Inquiry to Pearson re instruction to DGS

5. On May 7, 2021, the DSC Executive Director responds, saying she had already answered the question.  She attaches her April 5, 2021 response to the email.

2021-05-07 email RE_ Inquiry regarding Delta Independent Science Board contracts

Related posts:

“No legal basis” for 90% pay reduction for Delta Independent Science Board members